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by Sharon Fekety

Here’s good news.  The HISTORIC ARCH BRIDGE, connecting Oregon City with West Linn, will reopen to motor vehicles on Monday, October 15.  It’s been closed since January, 2011.  The weekend before the opening, Oct. 12, 13 and 14, will include a three-day Willamette Falls Festival, sponsored by Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition.  During the three days of the festival, the bridge will be open to pedestrians and cyclists but closed to motor vehicle traffic.  There still will be no bike lanes but you can ride on the sidewalk or the roadway.  The short and narrow bridge does not seem to pose a problem to cyclists.  Because the bridge is historic, they were not able to widen it or change it in any way.

Portland will LOWER SPEED LIMITS on 70 miles of streets, from 25 to 20 mph.  Most sign installations will be on bike-friendly neighborhood greenways (bike boulevards) in north, northeast, southeast and a few in southwest.  Safety is the reason.  A cyclist or pedestrian, struck at 20 MPH, has a 95% survival rate.  At 30 MPH, the survival chances go down to 60%.  PBOT should begin installing the new signs immediately. 

Here’s an update on the road closures around CROWN POINT AND THE HISTORIC COLUMBIA RIVER HIGHWAY (HCRH).   From Sept. 4 to Sept. 30, the highway from Crown Point to Latourell Falls will be closed to all vehicles (including bikes).  The highway from Larch Mountain Rd. to Crown Point will be open to cyclists.  From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, the highway from Larch Mountain Rd. to Latourell Falls will be closed to all vehicles including bikes.  The highway from Latourell Falls to Bridal Veil Falls will be open to bikes.  The schedule after Jan. 1, 2013, is to be determined.  Go to www.wfl.fhwa.dot.gov/projects/or/crownpoint/for more and updated information.

Portland has a new ELECTRONIC BICYCLE COUNTER on the HAWTHORNE BRIDGE.  It’s been showing more than 8000 cyclists per day are crossing the bridge.  The counter was donated by Cycle Oregon.  It’s on the inbound, northern side of the west end where the path splits off to Waterfront Park or goes straight into downtown. It shows the number so far each day and “cyclists this year”.  It’s really cool. 

As a safety project, ODOT has begun striping NEW BIKE LANES on a one-mile section of NE SANDY BLVD. from NE 122nd Ave to NE 141st Ave. in east Portland.  The project will rebuild Sandy, adding a center turn lane, 2 12-foot travel lanes, 2 6-foot bike lanes, and a 6-foot sidewalk on the south side (railroad tracks on the north side), upgraded traffic signals and a flashing beacon at 131 Place. 

The GIBBS STREET BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE, which opened recently and connects South Waterfront (the bottom of the tram) at the Moody St. Cycle Track to the Lair Hill neighborhood, is still having problems.  The opening in June was delayed because of elevator problems and they are ongoing.  Three out of four of the last times I have tried to ride it, the elevator has been closed for servicing.  This leaves the stairs as your only option.  However, carrying a heavy bike up hundreds of stairs is no fun.  And the so called wheel gutter is not really an option as it is just a strip of concrete on one side and the stair railing is in the way. This could be a serious problem for a handicapped person.  I will update you on the progress.